80. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the State’s potential role in the EU’s new permanent structured co-operation mechanism; and the implications of same for Irish neutrality. (Question 52733/17 asked on 12 Dec 2017)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Following the launch of PESCO yesterday at the Foreign Affairs Council, focus will now centre on the participation in potential PESCO projects.

The work on elaborating the details of these project proposals and potential participants is currently ongoing at EU level and Ireland is playing its full part in those deliberations. The types of projects at which we are considering participating in, include:

- Upgrade of Maritime Surveillance Systems;

- Development of Unmanned Underwater Vehicles for protection of harbours and maritime systems;

- A Centre of Excellence for EU Military Training Missions, and

- Cyber Threats and Incident Response Information Sharing Platform.

Ireland’s participation in PESCO, which provides a treaty based framework, has no implications for Ireland’s policy of military neutrality which remains a core element of Irish Foreign policy. The protocols attaching to the Lisbon Treaty specifically recognise Ireland’s policy of military neutrality stating inter alia “The Lisbon Treaty does not affect or prejudice Ireland’s traditional policy of military neutrality ”.